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Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Program Expansion (I-ECMHC)

Date Submitted: 04/2022

Contact Information:

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Wellness Specialist/OK Warmline Program Coordinator, OSDH

Melissa Griffin


Oklahoma State Department of Health, 123 Robert S. Kerr Ave., OKC, OK 73102

Rating Category: Best Practice

Focus Area: Child Development

Focus Population: Children, Caregivers, Guardians, Parents, Owners, Administrators, Teachers

Goals and Outcomes: 

As a Prevention strategy, the goal of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is to support the development of infants and young children through strengthening the responsive capacity of their caregivers and promoting safe, stable, nurturing environments.  The project includes measures of both systems level and program level outcomes to include the following:

Systems Outcomes:

  • Increase the number of children who receive preventative mental health care in Early Care and Education Programs (Healthy People 2030)

  • The Consultant Mentors will provide mental health promotion and prevention supports to 120 programs annually, affecting a potential 6,000 children in rural/suburban Oklahoma Communities who will receive mental health supports in their educational settings.

  • The regional mentor consultants hired through the project will support 30 fee for service mental health consultants in their training and implementation of IECMHC annually expanding the reach of consultation to an additional 300 Early Care and Education programs and approximately 15,000 additional children who will receive mental health supports in an educational setting.

  • Increase the number of trained mental health consultants participating in the Oklahoma I-ECMHC Network -The I-ECMHC will increase capacity by 90% of current I-ECMHC network capacity.

  • Increase accessibility of I-ECMHC within rural regions of Oklahoma

  • Improve supports for children at high risk for developmental delay (ex: Children in Child Welfare) through provision of I-ECMC to their Early Care and Education Programs

  • Increase the use of developmental screening within Early Care and Education Settings

*75% of added capacity in the I-ECMHC network will be in rural and suburban regions of Oklahoma

Program Outcomes:

  • Increase the use of developmental screening within Early Care and Education Settings

  • 80% of programs receiving I-ECMHC report use of developmental screening in their setting

  • Decrease the use of expulsion practices by Early Care and Education programs in Oklahoma

  • Measured by report of retention of identified children within request for I-ECMHC

  • Improve the mental health climate of ECE programs who access I-ECMHC that supports optimal child development

  • Measured by mental health climate assessment tools administered pre and post service.

  • Increase use of trauma informed practices by Early Care and Education Programs

  • Increase change in knowledge and practice measured by administration of director survey pre and post service

Brief Summary:

I-ECMHC is grounded in a theory of change that is emphasizes a systems approach that includes multiple levels of influence on a child’s development and well-being. Working with Directors, teachers, and families are essential to the I-ECMHC approach. The emotional climate of a classroom is a function of how well the teachers are able to work together, their own interaction styles and their emotional availability; this in turn has a direct impact on the capacity of young children to learn and develop in their classroom.  

This project proposes to expand accessibility of I-ECMHC to licensed ECE programs in Oklahoma and provide much-needed infrastructure to support program fidelity to achieve expected outcomes around program quality, teacher confidence, teacher burnout, child development, and reduction of the use of more punitive discipline practices including expulsion. There is a body of research that demonstrates that suspensions and expulsions are not only ineffective, but also harmful for our youngest students (OSSE, 2013). Furthermore, the pattern of out-of-school punishments demonstrates a clear and unacceptable gender and racial disparity, with young boys of color suspended and expelled at vastly disproportionate rates (OCR, 2014). 

In addition, children who have a disability or a developmental delay are often subject to exclusionary practices and harsh discipline, undermining the program’s goal of supporting development. I-ECMHC includes work around equity and inclusion to examine biases and support providers in changing practice ( This project proposes expanding I-ECMHC through a blend of full-time regional consultants and a fee-for-service service delivery structure that is tied to centralized training hubs to assure Oklahoma meets training requirements of consultants outlined by the Center for Excellence in I-ECMHC and implements the program model in a consistent and effective way. 

The full-time regional positions will serve as mentors and anchors for the program in the area stabilizing accessibility to ECE programs who have struggled to access the service in the past. These positions will support fee-for-service consultants in community settings who provide consultation part-time as one of the duties of their job.  

The program Network will coordinate through the Oklahoma Warmline who will serve as the access point for licensed child care programs to request I-ECMHC in their classrooms.

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